Recurring Cast: Peter Dinklage, Emilia Clarke, Kit Harrington, Lena Headey, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Sophie Turner, Maisie Williams, Isaac Hempstead Wright, Liam Cunningham, Rory McCann, Gwendoline Christie, John Bradley, Aidan Gillian, Conleith Hill, Iain Glen, Jerome Flynn, Alfie Allen
The Dragon Queen has finally landed on Westeros. Season Seven finally answers the long anticipated question of what happens when Daenarys Targaryen finishes raising her armies across the Narrow Sea and comes to take the rightful throne. Episode One has a beautiful scene where Daenarys lands on Dragonstone and wanders into the home she has never stepped foot on, but has dreamt about her whole life. The scene has few words, but is one of the most powerful moments of the season. Finally, we can see the conclusion of the Game of Thrones on the horizon.
But, as with anything penned by George R. R Martin, if only it was that simple. With any other show or film, we would be in pretty standard fantasy territory. The rightful ruler has come to her homeland, now with fan favourite, Tyrion Lannister, on her side. There is a violently dangerous ruler on the Iron Throne, Cersei Lannister, now in firm villain territory. By all accounts, there should be a big fight, Daenarys will have an outstanding victory and Westeros will finally get the peaceful Queen it deserves. However, anyone that has sat through all previous six seasons of Game of Thrones knows how downright absurd such a simple premise sounds. For one, Cersei has a wonderful habit of being a spanner in the works for any narrative. Episode One you almost feel sorry for the character, missing all of her tactical advantages and looking severely outnumbered when compared to Daenarys’ Iron Fleet, Unsullied, Dothraki… I could go on and I haven’t even got to the three giant dragons she has in her arsenal. However, Season Seven gloriously turns the tables quite promptly, especially in Episode Two and Three’s shock ending, which could be accused of writing out major characters too swiftly, but the twists are so well-written, you are impressed at Cersei’s nasty habit of endurance. But the bigger reason for the complications in Daenarys’ rule are the White Walkers looming ever closer to the Wall, a growing army at their back. Gone are the days where the dead were that distant threat that was occasionally brought up to make the posters look that little bit cooler. Now they are the front and centre of the show, especially in a tremendous battle this season that will have you biting your fingernails to bloody ends. Season Seven see-saws between Daenarys’ battle with Cersei and Jon’s battle against the White Walkers, making us guess which one will take precedence in Season Seven. We truly feel caught between a rock and a hard place, especially when the two storylines crash together, in another scene Game of Thrones fans have been waiting for since the very beginning: Jon Snow meeting Daenarys. This is not the only fan-pleasing moment in Season Seven. As we draw closer to the end of Game of Thrones, the writers begin satisfying certain urges, realising that it is time to wrap things up. Forgotten characters return to the helm of the story, some successfully and others frustratingly fleetingly. Some of the problems with Season Six’s wrapping up of certain plot points still remain here, thankfully to a lesser degree. Other characters finally meet up, creating that pleasant sensation of a few barbs being traded back and forth. Whenever Tyrion is reunited with a Lannister, the dialogue sizzles. Jon Snow gets to get his hands on Theon Greyjoy at last. Two Cleganes are put in the same scene together. Once again, it is the small moments that make Game of Thrones such a good show. You can push the dragons and the Walkers to one side and simply have fun watching Tyrion and Varys get drunk together.
These moments are arguably more important than ever now. The cutting down of episodes from ten to seven proves a very scary point: this series is ending, faster than any of us would like. I have always had a fear that Game of Thrones was the kind of show that had a middle more satisfying than its end. Season Four was a series highlight, because there were so many directions for the show to go. Anyone was likely to get their head cut off. As we reach the end, the character list being whittled down every passing episode, there are less and less directions for the series to end. There is no more Baratheon army providing the murky grey area of morality. The Wildings are not providing an outside threat. The Sand Snakes have picked a side. There is this fear that Game of Thrones thrives from the burning unknown and the closer we get to the end, the less surprises the writers have access to. The show does make a habit of proving us wrong at several points. The highlight of the season comes much earlier than anticipated, a nervous explosion of anxieties emerging from one particular battle. Each side has faces you have grown to love and in the heat of the moment, you are lost as to who you want to win. The message: war is not as easy as you might think and there is no easy solution to this complex story. And there are definitely still surprises up the show’s sleeve. Perhaps the bigger issue is the fact tat there are moments, where the show appears to be rushing. Episode Two and Three are explosively exciting due to the amount of shocks packed into a short space of time, but one cannot help but wonder why they couldn’t be split into multiple episodes, perhaps helping the show meet its usual quote for ten a season. This is especially true in Episode Five when Tyrion jumps from Dragonstone to King’s Landing and back again. In the old days, that would have been a season’s worth of material. Yet perhaps this is just greed, rather than an actual criticism. But can you blame me, when the show delivers such great sequences? And as the final moment of the season proves: we have a lot more great ones to come!
Final Verdict: Game of Thrones smartly swerves the idea that it is running out of ideas with some of the best sequences yet.